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South Africa Externship Information and Application Process

Since 1996, the Law School has sent more than 100 Michigan Law students to South Africa to spend a semester working at various NGOs.

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Hear what past externs had to say about the South Africa Externship experience.


A student may earn a maximum of 13 credits for an approved externship program in a regular academic term. Students who choose to go on externship in South Africa are required to enroll in LAW 680, Constitutionalism in South Africa.

A student may not engage in both the externship and study abroad program during his or her matriculation at the Law School.

Student Eligibility

The externship program is open to second-or third-year law students who are in good academic standing at the Law School. In deciding whether to approve an externship program, the members of the Curriculum Committee may take into account the student's academic performance at the Law School. The Committee will more than likely not approve a proposal from a student who has two or more outstanding Incompletes on his or her transcript at the time the proposal is submitted. Students with two or more Incomplete grades who receive permission from the Committee to participate in the externship program will be required to resolve at least one of the Incompletes before the start of the externship term.

Students are not permitted to participate in an externship with more than one Incomplete grade on their transcript at the time of their departure.


The deadline to submit a complete application package for a Winter 2020 South Africa Externship is 5:00PM on Monday, March 1, 2021. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that all parts of the externship application package have been received by the deadline.

Application Process

Each student proposing an externship program must submit a complete South Africa Externship Application Package. You can complete the application process here.  The complete applicaiton will consist of (1) essay of interest, (2) your resume, and (3) your draft cover letter to your top choice site.  If it is you last semester of law school, please also submit (4) a Registrar's checklist.

Prior to applying, it is recommended that students read the placement site descriptions and In Your Own Words to help guide their decision on preferred placements.

Once a student's application package is complete, they will be contacted to set up an application interview with Professor Sankaran, who teaches the South Africa Externship seminar course.

Essay of Interest

The essay provides an opportunity for the student to persuade the Law School that the externship will enable the student to fulfill educational objectives that cannot be achieved through Law School classes or in the ordinary course of professional opportunities available to the student. It also provides a way for host sites to evaluate and distinguish student applications, as well as develop a sense of the student's background, interest areas, and expertise. Students are advised to highlight their particular strengths, relevant experiences, and practice area interests. Students should also include how the externship builds on work he or she has done, or how it will contribute to the student's educational pursuits.

Preferred Placement Cover Letter

A cover letter must be provided for your top choice placement identified by the student. The letter should state the specific reasons why the student is interested in working at that particular site.

Final Semester Externship

If a student is proposing an externship in what would be their final semester of law school, he or she must meet with the Law School's Registrar to complete a for submission and Registrar Checklist 2020.pdf inclusion with the application package.

Application Interview

Each applicant will be required to participate in an interview with Professor Sankaran as part of the application process. These interviews will take place soon after the application packages are due. Each applicant will be contacted to schedule this interview.

As part of the application process, the applicant's former professors may be contacted by Professor Sankaran.

Overseas Travel Waiver

As a condition of enrolling for overseas externship credit, students must complete an Overseas Travel Waiver. This requirement applies whether or not the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert or travel warning for the country to which you plan to travel. See the Overseas Travel Requirements page for more complete information.​​​​​